We've all heard that cats have nine lives. Have you ever wondered why people say that? My husband is forever saying our cat has used up most of her lives.
Some say that myth comes from an ancient proverb. For three he plays, for three he strays, and for the last three he stays. While others insist it comes from the fact that a cat always lands on his feet.
The image you see below appeared in the journal Nature in 1894. The image was captured in Chronophotography by Etienne-Jules Marey who discovered how to capture several phases of movement in one photo.
Much like cats, the man I am talking about today landed on his feet. Well maybe not landed on them but he always got back up on them. Michael Malloy, aka Durable Mike Malloy was said to have nine lives.
I want to mention before I get started that while researching I found different accounts on the attempts on his life. I saw rat poison and a gun in more recent articles. However, the original 1933 newspaper articles I read about the murder attempts didn't mention these specifically so I've left them out.
Michael Malloy was born in Donegal County, Ireland in 1873. He was an Irish firefighter who made his way to New York.
Michael was a drunk and no one knew much more about him other than that. He had no family, no friends, and didn't know when exactly he was born.
It all began in January of 1933. Times were hard but still men hung out in the speakeasy to have a drink. Malloy was one of them. He did odd jobs and was happy to be paid in drink.
But on that fateful January evening a set of events was set into motion that would take not only Malloy's life but four other men and would change the lives of countless others.
Insurance Fraud. It started out four men sitting around talking at the speakeasy, Anthony Marino owner of a speakeasy, age 28, married with a child, Frank Pasque the youngest of the group, undertaker, married with a child, Daniel Kreisberg, grocer, age 29, married with 3 kids, and Joseph Murphy a bartender at the speakeasy. The four sat and watched Michael Malloy slouched over his drink like he was every day. Pasque looked at the men and suggested they take out a life insurance policy on Malloy and he would take care of the rest. And the 'Murder Trust' as the press would dub them was formed.
|Top left to right: Daniel Kreisberg and Joseph Murphy|
Bottom left to right: Frank Pasque and Tony Marino
PLOT 2: This time they'd feed Michael shots of wood alcohol. Prohibition ended in 1933 and the federal poisoning program estimated that 10,000 deaths were caused from alcohol poisoning. So when Michael Malloy came in to drink they started him out with whiskey. Once he became a bit tipsy they switched it to straight wood alcohol that they'd bought down the street. But Malloy never showed any signs of poisoning. He just drank to his heart's desire. Night after night they repeated the ritual but Malloy seemed impervious to the wood alcohol.
PLOT 3: Pasque got tired of waiting. He knew that Malloy had a taste for seafood so he suggested they soak oysters in denatured alcohol and feed them to Malloy. They did and then gave him wood alcohol to wash them down and still Malloy not only lived but didn't seem phased by it.
Now the costs of supplying this man in drink daily and insurance premiums are adding up. Malloy really needed to die.
|Marino's speakeasy Photo source Ossie LeViness, New York Daily News photographer.|
PLOT 5: They try Marino's idea. After Malloy passes out they drive him down the street, wade through the snow in subzero temperatures to a bench where they take Malloy's shirt off, douse him with water, and leave him to freeze to death. But the next morning when Marino arrives at his speakeasy he finds that Malloy has walked all the way back and is waiting on him in the speakeasy.
PLOT 6: The idea of running the Irishman over is discussed. They hire Harry Green, a cab driver, to help with the scheme and in return they'll give him a cut of the money. So two of the men hold Malloy up as the others ride in the cab and try to run him over. After several failed attempts they finally succeed running him down at 50 miles per hour. They back up and run over him for good measure. But when a car comes they can't check to make sure he is dead and they speed off. Several weeks pass with no sign of Malloy. They've called all the morgues and hospitals and can't find him. They actual decide to kill another drunk and pass him off as Malloy. But before they do in limps Malloy, bruised and a little worse for wear but alive and well.
PLOT 7: On February 21, 1933 the men took a drunk Malloy to a rented building less than a mile from the speakeasy. They took a rubber tube and ran it from Malloy's mouth to a gas light fixture then wrapped his face tightly in a towel. Malloy finally succumbed to their murder plot. Pasque's doctor friend, Frank Manzella filed a phony death certificate claiming lumbar pneumonia.
|Where Mike Malloy died. The arrow shows the rubber tube|
Photo source NY Daily News
The men went to redeem their policies. They collected the $800 policy but when Pasque went to collect on the next two policies the agent asked to see the body. Pasque said he had been buried. An investigation ensued. Kreisberg, Murphy, Pasque, and Marino where charged with first degree murder and electrocuted. Green went to prison. There were other thugs that helped and were aware of what was going on but I wasn't able to find out what happened to them as they played less of a part in the murder.
Michael Malloy became rather famous postmortem. Songs, instrumentals, plays, poems, and episodes were made about his untimely death.
Have you heard of Durable Mike Malloy? What were your thoughts as you read about the plots on the man's life and all the people who seemed to be okay with murdering the Malloy because he was a drunk?
Let me know by leaving a comment below and you'll be entered to win choice of one of my books as well as choice of format. Don't forget to leave your email addy so I can contact you should you win!
When her father died, she had promised herself no man would own her again,
After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosencraig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution.
Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.
Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. Connect with me on FB https://www.facebook.com/debbielynnecostello and Twitter https://twitter.com/DebiLynCostello.